The last few days have seen an increased focus on the votes of the over 65s by all the main parties. Lots of promises, manifesto pledges and whimsical foretelling’s of what life will be like for the older generation with the prospects of Brexit being a cause for concern.
So why focus on the older generation and why focus on them at this point in the campaign?
Simply, older voters are much more likely to vote than 18-24 years olds. In a recent poll, 65% of over 65’s said they were intending to vote in the general election where that figure stood at 29% for 18-24s. In addition to this, over 65s are more likely to be postal voters. The ballot papers for the postal vote are due to be sent out imminently. Not only do over 65s vote, but they also vote early. They are less likely to be persuaded, after generations of voting a particular way and they are less likely to be influenced by late campaign surges as their vote would already have been cast.
The promises that are made and the debate that will be held this week is crucial for all the main parties. This could make or break this election for all of them.
So how does Corbyn win them over?
Over 65s are more likely to vote Conservative. They have enjoyed a big improvement in their living standard, with poverty among the elderly falling to the lowest levels since 1961. The current average income of retired households are now higher than those of working ones, once housing costs are accounted for. There is no reason for them to want change.
Corbyn’s message of hope for change does not resonate with over 65s, his promise to keep the triple lock has not resulted in any increased support. Corbyn’s message needs to be honed to pull on what naturally falls into the priority of most retired people. There is a crisis in social care, there is a crisis of loneliness, the emotional well being and general health of our elderly population is a cause of great concern.
Instead of promising more wealth, Corbyn should be enabling more support. Corbyn should be touting the support that he would give to the youth of today to help support the elderly. By creating a highly skilled and educated workforce, Labour can create a vibrant and successful economy that will be able to support our older generation in their retirement. Corbyn and Labour have the right priorities, it is simply a case now of explaining the connections, making the narrative compelling and delivering a true vision of hope and prosperity for the next generation.
Let us fix this Tory mess.